How to Use a Timer to be More Productive

Want to be more productive? Use a timer.

When you use a timer to keep track of blocked time, you get rid of any and all distractions ... including the need to look at the clock. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Here are five ways to use a timer to increase your productivity.

1. Force Inspiration. Every so often you encounter a project that you can’t quite get into. So instead of spending a bit of time to get it started, you avoid it. This results in stress, not to mention a potential failed project. Set a timer for 15 minutes and force yourself to concentrate on what is perplexing you. Then, when the timer goes off, if you’ve figured it out, start your project. If not, take a breath, move onto something else, and try again the following day. At least the project will be in your head, which will make it easier to tackle when you try again.

2. Avoid Social Media Tangents. Let’s face it. Social media is essential for marketing your business. Yet, it's still a time-suck. You log on in the morning to do a couple of things, you get distracted, and the next thing you know, it’s almost noon. Set a timer for your 15-minute social media appointments, so you receive a reminder to not fall into the social media abyss.

3. Take a Break. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day, whether it’s for a walk, a bite to eat, or a water-cooler or online conversation. However, if you are spending your down time checking your watch or the clock on your smartphone, are you actually disengaging from work?

4. Limit Time-Consuming Tasks. This trick works well for emails and phone calls. Set a specific amount of time for something where time can spiral out of control. When the timer goes off, it’s time to wrap it up and move on.

5. Work on Something Fun! Yes, you can also use a timer to give yourself a creative treat. Let's say you have a great idea for a new story or article, but you really don't have that much spare time to put into it. As a reward for completing an important task or action items, instead of taking a physical break, take a 15-minute creative one. And you'll be amazed at how the little bits of time you put into a bigger project add up!

In the age of technology, just about everyone has a timer at their fingertips, because their mobile phone is usually no further than an arm’s length away. Put your phone on silent, turn off your notifications, hit the start button, and you are ready to go.

What is your favorite productivity tool? How do you use your timer? Please share in the comments.

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Terry Whalin said...


Thanks for this interesting article about using a timer with your writing. I've never tried it for such tasks but it is a different twist on it.

Straight Talk From the Editor

Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks, Terry. It's a technique I recommend to my clients all the time, and one I also use. Happy writing!

Karen Cioffi said...

Deb, great tips on how to be more productive. I haven't tried a timer yet, but I think it would be especially helpful with social media marketing. It's so easy to slip beyond the time you should be spending on it.

Debra Eckerling said...

Thanks, Karen! Yes, social media, tho necessary, if you are not careful, can quickly take over your day. In this case, the timer works like an alarm clock to "wake you up" and send you on your way.

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